Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rockefellers: Change crucial for future of Exxon

Members of the Rockefeller family, descendants of the man who founded ExxonMobil forerunner Standard Oil, are calling for changes in governance and is urging the company to cut greenhouse gas emissions and look into renewable fuels in shareholder resolutions sponsored by the family. Exxon management opposes the resolutions.

The family "are concerned Exxon's senior management has tunnel vision and is too absorbed with the challenges of daily management of multibillion dollar oil and natural-gas projects to ask hard questions about the future of fossil fuels. Mr. Tillerson and other Exxon executives have said they believe oil and gas will represent the vast majority of energy consumption for decades," according to The Wall Street Journal.

Although the family does not own a controlling share of ExxonMobil, the Rockefellers symbolic introduction of these resolutions has gotten the attention of management and hope other shareholders will join them.

Read more at The London Times Online also discusses the challenges faced by ExxonMobil as they move into they future:
While the Rockefellers beat their breasts, most shareholders will continue to love the fat Exxon dividend.

Yet underlying the protest from the trust fund Rockers is a big problem for oil companies - their ever-increasing reliance on the support of governments and regulators.

Exxon's riposte to the climate change and peak oil lobbies is that technology rather than regulation will provide answers to our energy problems.

It is a disingenuous argument because the energy industry is at the governments' knees begging for help - big dollops of taxpayer cash to build experimental power stations.
Tip of the hat to Jack for this article.


  1. Entrenched companies don't generally fare well through technological shifts, even when they try.

    None of the old builders of steam locomotives survived the transition to diesel, for example.

    So don't expect oil companies to lead the way to the post-petroleum world, or even to survive it!

  2. I would add this from the WSJ: If the Rockefellers are willing to stand up and be counted,maybe the Ford Foundation would, maybe Harvard College would." The proposal has been gaining support. In 2003, it drew 21.5% of shareholder votes, and it won about 40% last year.

    Getting public policy to change will be highly influenced by corporate strategies...especially by those who are very dependent on the status quo.

    The transition will be painful, even for entrenched companies, just look at the Big 3 who stayed alive via trucks-SUVs and outdated regulation.

  3. ...well, it behooves high profile "name" families like the rockefellers to show a civic minded 'footprint' in this, the day & age of 'green'...

    ...& certain oil companies are now expressing their concerns or interests, through various forms of advertising media regarding "alternative" methods, but again it serves their own best interests regarding public image & future profits while mollifying a younger crowd maturing into a world that they see as needing environmental attention...

    ...295bus...i think you've drawn both a good & bad analogy re: steam locomotives to diesel...companies are structured differently in this the day of the 'mega-corp' w/ whole departments devoted to analyzing & assessing any direction needed to maintain profit margins...but budget departments won't allow shifts until a maximizing can be assured...
    ...there are now opportunities for smaller energy companies to make a mark but i believe ultimately they'll get bought up by the big present interests...

    ...i could be wrong but i think it'll be the same old, same old, even if it's re-badged & brought to the table on a bed of 'greens'...

  4. Interesting thought about entrenched companies. The one that comes to mind for me is Schwinn -- they owned the bike market but flamed out miserably with nascent globalization in the 1970s.

  5. Note the fortunes of World Without Oil ARG; turned into lesson plans that teachers are using in public schools.
    and still winning web awards a year after the event:

    We are living through the last throes of a mad dog dying. Just as the Climate Change voices are finding credibility, so too are the Peak Oil 'prophets'